Gadget Tree: Tostonera


Deep fried. Twice. Carb-loaded. Starchy.

TostoneraYep, that’s my kind of comfort food: tostones. And I just found an easier way to make them: a tostonera.

You have nooo idea what I’m talking about, do you?

Tostones are twice fried* chunks of smashed plantains, which are the bigger, firmer cousin of the banana, but with a lot less sugar. They’re a staple in Cuba and the Caribbean, as well as other parts of the world. They’re available in many supermarkets or ethnic grocery stores.

Back to the tostonera. You have to smash the plantains after the first fry, so a tostonera makes it easier. This little gadget is also great for getting the kids to help. What kid doesn’t like smashing things?

Here’s a demo. Don’t forget the first fry before the smashing begins (I don’t show it in the video)!

The tostonera I found in Cuba is metal, but they are also made of wood, plastic and bamboo and come in different sizes.

Now…get out there and start smashing!

*Twice Fried: That phrase probably makes you shudder, but remember I said it was a comfort food… that means only occasionally. Tostones also make a great appetizer served with a dipping sauce!




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Gadget Tree: What in the Heck Is This?


Cati asks: I got this weird looking thing as a wedding shower gift. I assume it’s for cooking, but what is it and how do I use it?

First of all, congratulations on your marriage. Second, whoever gave this to you wants to make sure you don’t burn any newlywed suppers!

Heat diffuserWhat you received is a stovetop heat diffuser (also called a simmer plate). It evenly distributes heat across the bottom of the pan when you cook over very low heat… like when you have to simmer a delicate sauce or braise a roast. It’s also great for melting chocolate!

A heat diffuser gets rid of “hot spots” because it reduces the intense heat from reaching the pan… the heat is diffused. Consider a heat diffuser as an added layer of protection between the burner and the bottom of the pan. It’ll keep you from scorching lightweight pots and pans or cracking clay, porcelain and glass cookware.

Using it is simple: just set it on top of the burner (gas or electric, but not induction) and place your cookware (pot or pan) on top. Make sure you let it cool down completely before moving or storing it.

Cati, your diffuser is tin-plated steel with a nice wooden handle. Heat diffusers are also made with dark anodized aluminum, enamel cast iron and perforated steel discs (with or without handles).

So, have fun using the diffuser and consider yourself lucky! I mean really, have you seen some of the odd-ball stuff people give as gifts at wedding showers?!



I’m Christina Chavez

I was a TV journalist for many years, but with a house full of kids I decided to come off the road, go to culinary school and follow my passion for cooking. Mama’s High Strung is all about food… everything from creative recipe ideas to some really cool kitchen gadgets and cooking tips. I live in Chicago, but I love to travel and write about my food discoveries! You can reach me by email: